Mangiabeve does Mamak…
It sounds like some sort of B-grade Hollywood porno. It’s a necessary title however, because I feel too often it’s all to easy to snub Melbourne’s Eastern cuisines and go for the proven Western winners. Walking into the brainchild of Julian Lee, Alan Lu and Clement Lee, it’s clear this is the reason no-reservation restaurants came into fruition. Tables come and go with the same pedigree of speediness of the food dishes themselves (Well, to be fair this is with exception of our last dish but I will get to that) and it works quite well. Even if there is a line, in 5-10 minutes a string of tables work up and everything seemed to flow quite well for a place that has only been open a short while.
So, in we went, and as it happens we were seated immediately. BYO was very refreshing, although it’s clear from the masses of tables and just us drinking that corkage isn’t paying the rent. My bottle of Garnachas de Espana Salvaje del Mocayo 2009 (say that 10 times fast) must have looked like it fell from space, but down we sat with it. Oh, don’t expect anything other than water tumblers to drink out of either, but I sort of like the way it pays homage to its Malaysian hawker street food roots; I’m pretty sure street vendors wouldn’t use Riedel either.The decor fits in nicely with this theme too, low slung quasi bar stools and nothing much in the way of what you eat on but it’s all for added effect. The buzzing of people, open kitchen at the front of house and plates constantly whirring past your head remind you of the essence of what such an establishment aims to be about, and to that effect it does it perfectly.
I can’t really chronograph any particular order to the dishes, as they simply come out instantaneously and as ordered but here goes..
Slow cooked lamb curry arrived in time for our wine opening, so I will post my thoughts on them both. The lamb curry was cooked perfectly, with a tangy spice that was enough to make the nose run but not enough to drown out the flavours of tender lamb and accompanying juices. The wine, a simple but finessed garnacha with medium weight and nuances of tobacco, spice and berries delivered fantastic value for money (~$20) in such a beautifully designed bottle.
The nasi lemak (coconut rice) came sans anchovies but with curried chicken. The rice was fragrant, but it’s clear the curried chicken is for infidels like myself who don’t get it smothered in fish options.
The Roti bread was on another level completely. So delicate, crispy, flavoursome and uncompromisingly beautiful. The sauces almost detracted from its sole beauty but truth be told I couldn’t help but dip some in that delectable lamb curry sauce.
The chicken satay’s were good too. A little on the puny side for what you pay ($9 for 6) but were tender and the house peanut sauce they come with was not overly oily nor too course.
This wouldn’t be Mangiabeve if J and I didn’t eat ourselves stupid, so we decided to try the chicken Roti Murtabak; a sort of Roti quesedilla filled with spicy meat, cabbage, eggs and onions. It was good, if not outstanding.
As we were finishing, for the grand finale we decided to add another serve of Beef Satay. 15 minutes later, as nothing had arrived and convinced our server had forgot we reminded one of the wait staff. When they eventually located them (no doubt somewhere behind the fridge) they were cold and dry. Struggling for eloquence here, I think J summed it up perfectly when he quipped ‘How could they f**k us on the finale?!?!’. Such is life.
Mamak delivered some good, if somewhat simple hawker food that I would have no doubt recommending if you are in the area and the lines are manageable. Would I make a cross town journey and be prepared to wait? Most probably not.
366 Lonsdale St Melbourne